Former Strikeforce lightweight titleholder and current UFC lightweight contender Gilbert Melendez lost a razor-close split decision to reigning UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson at UFC on Fox 7 on April 20, but gained confidence if the two ever rematch.
Melendez was “heartbroken” when Henderson’s hand was raised in victory and believes he did enough to win the fight, but walked away from the loss having learned a few things.
“He's just a super athlete, and I expected that. He had some great kicks, but I also expected that. And I expected him to bounce in and land some punches and I did my best to counter the punches and block the kicks and I never felt like I was in any danger. I never felt any anxiety or that he was running away with the fight or he was putting it on me,” Melendez told MMAWeekly content partner Knockout Radio.
“I learned a lot from the experience. I learned that next time I fight him, I'd do a lot of things differently in there.”
Heading into the title fight, Melendez felt that Henderson may have had an advantage in the grappling department and purposely didn’t try to get the fight to the ground.
“I don't want to give up my game plan, but I've gained confidence in the wrestling and grappling department,” he said. “I didn't think I shot too much. I didn't want to engage him on the ground. I felt like he might have an advantage there but I think I know now that I feel a little more confident in those positions.”
The 31-year-old will have a different game plan if they rematch at some point in the future.
“In the clinch, I felt really strong there, attempted to re-clinch him,” said Melendez. “And I don't want to get too in depth because I might fight the guy again, but I know exactly what I would do and how I would finish him. Not finish him, but to get my hands on him and fight him a little bit better. But at the time, I had my game plan, I stuck to it, and I thought it was enough.”
UFC president Dana White announced during the UFC on Fox 7 post-fight press conference that the winner of the UFC 160 bout between Gray Maynard and TJ Grant would get the next title shot against Henderson.